Murchison Falls: Uganda’s Largest National Park

As Uganda’s largest national park, Murchison Falls National Park protects 1,500 square miles of East African wilderness. Set on the mighty Nile River, it offers superb wildlife viewing from both land and water, cementing its reputation as the best game park in Uganda.

Murchison Falls National Park is named after the dramatic Murchison Falls—also known as Kabalega Falls. Here, the Nile River rushes through a narrow gap in the rock and plunges into a frothing pool 140 feet below. On average, about 80,000 gallons flow through the 30-foot wide gorge per second. That makes Murchison Falls the most powerful waterfall in the world!

A short drive on a twisting, dirt road takes you to the top of the falls, where you can hear the roar of the falls and feel the spray as the water forces itself through the rock. The views are absolutely stunning.

Elephant flaps its ears at Murchison Falls national Park Uganda

You are likely to see elephants when on safari in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda.

Wildlife at Murchison Falls National Park

During a typical game drive you can expect to see many antelope species, including Defassa waterbucks, bushbucks, Thomson’s gazelles, and rabbit-sized dik-diks—to name but a few.

The highest diversity of wildlife is found on the open plains north of the Nile, where visitors frequently see elephants, buffalos, giraffes, warthogs, side-striped jackals, baboons, and patas monkeys. Murchison Falls National Park is also the best park in Uganda to see lions and leopards.

You might also see the endangered Rothschild giraffe here. This giraffe subspecies was once widespread in East Africa, but now lives in only a few areas. It is the focus of important conservation efforts.

Keep your eye out for large birds like the Abyssinian ground hornbill and Denham’s bustard.

For true adventure, get a birds’ eye view of the wildlife at Murchison Falls National Park from a hot air balloon!

Antelope in the tall dry grass of Murchison Falls national Park Uganda

An antelope is camouflaged by the tall grass in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda.

Explore Murchison Falls National Park by Boat

Cruising down the Nile is a great way to see animals as they come down to the water’s edge to drink. The Nile supports the largest concentration of hippos and crocodiles in Africa and a dazzling variety of waterbirds.

The views of the falls as you approach by boat are spectacular, and the delta’s papyrus swamps are filled with wildlife. It’s not unheard of to see hippos in their hundreds, as well as small herds of Cape buffalos, Bohor reedbucks, oribis, kobs and—as often as not—giraffes and monkeys. Elephants frequently play in the water, and fortunate visitors might even see a lion or leopard.

The birdlife on the Nile River in Murchison Falls is stunning, with the top prize being the rare shoebill. You might also see the African fish eagle, goliath heron, saddle-billed stork, African jacana, gray crowned crane, pied kingfisher, malachite kingfisher, African skimmer, piapiac, Senegal thick-knee, and rock pratincole.

Read more about boat cruises on safari.

African gray crowned crane at Murchison Falls national Park Uganda

A gray crowned crane struts along a river bank in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda.

Murchison Falls Conservation Area—Budongo Forest

Murchison Falls National Park is part of the larger Murchison Falls Conservation Area, which encompasses about 2,100 square miles in total. South of the park and within the conservation area lies Budongo Forest, famous for its chimpanzees and birds.

Budongo Forest has one of the most varied forest ecosystems in the whole of East Africa. The 500-square-mile forest reserve has more than 465 plant species, 250 butterfly species, and many mammals—including the biggest population of chimpanzees in Uganda.

Learn more about seeing chimpanzees in East Africa.

In addition to the 600 to 700 chimpanzees, other primates in Budongo Forest include red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus, blue monkeys, pottos, and various forest galago species.

Birdwatching in Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is also an incredible experience for bird lovers! More than 366 bird species have been recorded here, including 60 West or Central African birds found in fewer than five places in East Africa.

Mornings are a great time to enjoy birding along the Royal Mile in Budongo Forest. Once a popular stop for Ugandan royalty to rest on their journeys, the Royal Mile is a superb birding spot with a variety of sought-after species, including the African crowned eagle, Nahan’s francolin, Sabine’s spinetail, blue-breasted kingfisher, piping hornbill, hairy-breasted barbet, yellow-crested woodpecker, fire-crested alethe, lemon-bellied crombec, rufous-crowned elemomela, gray-headed sunbird, and western black-headed oriole.

Female lion looks at camera while lying in the grass at Murchison Falls national Park Uganda

A lioness creeps through the grass at Murchison Falls National Park. Photo by Maciej.

Visit Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls is about a 5-hour drive from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. You can also fly into Murchison Falls via a charter plane or take a scheduled flight from Entebbe, Uganda. But a drive makes it easier to explore multiple reserves and ecosystems within Murchison Falls Conservation Area, including Murchison Falls National Park and Budongo Forest.

Curious to explore your safari options? Contact Ujuzi today.

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